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Leading Off:

MI-Gov: Kablammo! There go GOP Gov. Rick Snyder's approval ratings and his standing for re-election. PPP lays him flat:

Just last month when we took a first look at the 2014 landscape we talked about how much Rick Snyder had improved his popularity during his second year in office and how he led a generic Democrat for reelection by 6 points, even as Barack Obama won the state comfortably.

Last week he threw all that out the window.

We now find Snyder as one of the most unpopular Governors in the country. Only 38% of voters approve of him to 56% who disapprove. There are only 2 other sitting Governors we've polled on who have a worse net approval rating than Snyder's -18. He's dropped a net 28 points from our last poll on him, the weekend before the election, when he was at a +10 spread (47/37).

Three words are to blame here: right to work. Well, of course, Snyder himself is to blame: After telling the state of Michigan that he would not push through anti-union and anti-worker "right to work" legislation (that Orwellian epithet really means "right to work for less"), he went ahead and did exactly that during a shameful lame-duck session of the legislature. (Michigan Republicans lost seats this November, so they wanted to force a vote while they still had greater numbers.) Overall, voters oppose RTW 51-41, and a similar 49-40 margin says they'd vote to overturn the law if given the chance at the ballot box.

And now for the really fun stuff. If Snyder does indeed run for a second term—something he previously said he might not do—well, he'd get pummeled, if his fortunes don't somehow turn around. Here's how he does against a passel of possible contenders:

• 38-49 vs. 2010 nominee Virg Bernero

• 39-47 vs. Rep. Gary Peters

• 38-46 vs. state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer

• 39-44 vs. ex-Rep. Mark Schauer

Note that ceiling of 38 to 39 percent for Snyder: All of his potential opponents are unknown to half the state, even Bernero. That means, at least right now, voters are really thinking "anyone but Snyder." Hell, as Tom Jensen points out, Bernero lost by 18 points in 2010, so these new numbers constitute a remarkable 29-point reversal of fortune.

Don't be thinking recall, though: Voters still oppose the notion 48-44, and as we saw in Wisconsin, those numbers tend to get worse over time, not better. And Tom also notes that Snyder's bounced back before: He started his term in office with an abysmal 33-50 job approval score. Now, though, with the midterm election cycle already underway, Democrats and labor unions won't take their boots off Snyder's neck—and hopefully things will stay that way until Nov. 2014.

P.S. Republicans in the legislature are also getting slaughtered over this. They currently have a 31-58 approval rating (versus 46-37 for Democrats), leading to an eye-popping 56-32 lead for Dems on the generic congressional ballot. PPP calls that "one of the most lopsided generic ballots we've ever seen in any state." It's just too bad the next elections are so far off!


HI-Sen, HI-01: Ordinarily, when a sitting senator resigns or passes away, there's a flurry of speculation about who his or her successor might be. But following the death of Sen. Dan Inouye, things might be very different. That's because shortly before he died, Inouye transmitted a personal message to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a fellow Democrat, asking that he name Rep. Colleen Hanabusa as his replacement, calling her his "one and only choice." It's very hard to see how Abercrombie could deny the wishes of a dying man, particularly one as revered in Hawaii as Inouye, and especially since Abercrombie confirmed that Inouye was of sound mind when he made his request.

What's more, Hawaii law requires that a successor hail from the same political party as the senator he or she is replacing, and the leadership of the Hawaii Democratic Party will provide three names to Abercrombie, which he can then choose from. So presumably Hanabusa's name will wind up on that very short list.

It's easy to play Great Mentioner nonetheless—theoretically, Abercrombie has plenty of options, such as Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard, or even himself. But as I say, I can't really imagine Abercrombie playing the maverick here. (Hanabusa and Sen.-elect Mazie Hirono reportedly have a frosty relationship, but surely that's not reason enough for Abercrombie to spurn Inouye.) Of course, anything can happen—and sometimes it does. Like they say about baseball, this is why they play the games.

(One side-note: Whoever does receive the appointment would then have to run again in 2014 for the final two years of Inouye's term—and then again in 2016 for a full term. But in a state as solidly blue as Hawaii, Republicans have virtually no shot, particularly when their best possible candidate, ex-Gov. Linda Lingle, got crushed by 63-37 by Hirono earlier this year.)

And if Hanabusa does get elevated to the Senate, then that will trigger a special election in her 1st District seat—the second such special for this seat in three years. Ordinarily, I'd expect a ton of names to come out of the woodwork for a safely blue open seat, but as we saw earlier this year when HI-02 was open thanks to Hirono's Senate run, interest was a lot lower than you might predict. So we could see a free-for-all, or we might see a much smaller affair. We'll just have to wait and see. (Let's just pray ex-Rep. Ed Case does not attempt yet another comeback.)

Incidentally, if you are interested in some trivia about Inouye's long career, UMN's Smart Politics blog catalogs the extraordinary 412 fellow senators who served alongside Inouye during his 49-year tenure. And with Inouye's passing and the imminent retirement of Hawaii's junior senator, Dan Akaka, that would leave New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg as the only World War II veteran in the Senate. Also of note: As the senior-most senator following the death of Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Inouye had been president pro tempore of the Senate (and thus third in the line of presidential succession). Now that honor will fall to Vermont's Patrick Leahy.

IA-Sen, -Gov: While uber-wingnut Rep. Steve King still contemplates a run against Dem Sen. Tom Harkin, Shira Toeplitz mentions two other possible Republican contenders: Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and state Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. But note that back in May, Gov. Terry Branstad said he'd actually like Reynolds to succeed him as governor if he doesn't seek re-election in 2014. (And Branstad still hasn't made up his mind: In October, he said he was keeping his "options open," though that was in the context of a fundraiser for his campaign committee, so it sounds like he's leaning toward another run.)


AR-Gov: Oops:

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) said he had an "inappropriate" "limited interaction" with a Hot Springs attorney in 2011, but details of an alleged affair are limited. [...]

McDaniel, who married his current wife, Bobbi, in 2009, released a statement today that read:

"With respect to Ms. Davis, I met her during the 2010 campaign. I had limited interaction with her in 2011, some of which I regret to say was inappropriate. I have no knowledge of the other allegations contained in this pleading.

My wife Bobbi and I love each other very much. I have been candid with her about this matter, and with much prayer, we have moved on with our life together. I hope the people of Arkansas will also accept my apology and know how honored I am to work for them everyday," said McDaniel.

I guess McDaniel, who just released a poll last week showing him as the Democratic frontrunner in the gubernatorial race, wouldn't be the first person to run for governor of Arkansas who had an extramarital affair—er, sorry, "inappropriate interaction." But, ah, methinks the demographics of the state have changed a good bit since the Big Dog was running the show.

WI-Gov: Did the failure of the Wisconsin recall damage Democratic chances of defeating Gov. Scott Walker at the regularly-scheduled 2014 election? It very will may have, as Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finds Team Blue coming up short in terms of willing recruits. Ex-Sen. Russ Feingold and Rep. Ron Kind are probably at the top of the list, but they haven't said a word and in fact didn't respond to the paper's questions about a potential run; Stein suggests both might prefer to wait until 2016 when the man who defeated Feingold, Sen. Ron Johnson, faces his first re-election battle.

So where does that leave the Dems? Stein runs through a few second-tier possibles: Madison biotech executive Kevin Conroy; Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca; state Sen. Jon Erpenbach; Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson; Dane County Executive Joe Parisi; and firefighter union president Mahlon Mitchell, who ran for lt. governor during the recall. All of these names are only at Great Mentioner stage, except for Parisi and Mitchell, who aren't ruling anything out but don't sound gung-ho.


MI-11: Is there any Republican member of the incoming 113th Congress more likely to get primaried—and more vulnerable to such a challenge—than Kerry Bentivolio, the reindeer farmer with a history of mental instability who won a super-flukey race to replace ex-Rep. Thad McCotter? Answer: Yes, probably Tennessee's Scott DesJarlais, but Bentivolio has to be close! With that in mind, Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz takes an early look at some potential contenders and suggests businessman David Trott, former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski, and outgoing state Rep. Marty Knollenberg as possibles.

Knollenberg (son of ex-Rep. Joe Knollenberg, who used to represent the old 9th) says he'd "certainly look at it" if supporters encourage him to do so. Meanwhile, Trott, you may recall, considered a write-in campaign of his own after McCotter's ballot access debacle but quickly decided against it, even though a lot of Republicans wanted him to get in. And Raczkowski, who also once ran in the 9th (losing in 2010 to the guy who had defeated Knollenberg, Gary Peters) had contemplated a write-in bid as well.

While we're at it, we might as well play Great Mentioner ourselves and round up the other potential saviors whose names popped up after the McCotter implosion: There's state Sen. Mike Kowall, who briefly ran against McCotter in the primary (when McCotter still appeared to be a valid candidate); former Oakland County GOP chair Paul Welday; former state Sen. Loren Bennett, who did wage his own write-in campaign for about half a minute; and of course, former state Sen. Nancy Cassis, the consensus write-in option of the local GOP establishment who got blasted by Bentivolio in the primary. Cassis seemed pretty disheartened by her loss and is also almost 70 years old, so I'd be surprised to see her try again.

SC-01: We have a few more Republican names emerging for the special election that'll be necessary to fill Rep. Tim Scott's seat once he ascends to the Senate next year. Hilariously, disgraced ex-Gov. Mark Sanford says he's "studying" a bid; just the other week, he said he was looking at a potential run for the DeMint seat, so obviously no quantum of shame will keep Sanford out of public life. Meanwhile, one candidate has already said he's definitely in: Teddy Turner, son of gazillionaire media chieftain Ted Turner. Aside from his famous family name (which is not necessarily a boon, as pops is considered pretty liberal), Turner, a high school economics teacher, is more or less a Some Dude.

Finally, The Hotline mentions a couple more possibilities: Scott's chief of staff, Joe McKeown (who's also a former Charleston County Council member) and Charleston-area Solicitor Duffie Stone (solicitor is South Carolina's version of a prosecutor, and Stone oversees five counties). For a long list of other potential candidates, see the lead item here.

Grab Bag:

Pres-by-CD: As you've probably guessed from our efforts to crowdsource data collection, we're running into data sufficiency constraints in our calculations, slowing our pace somewhat.

Alabama (AL-05)

Texas (TX-10, TX-17)

West Virginia (statewide)

AL-05, once home to turncoat Rep. Parker Griffith, is now down to just 35 percent Obama—though that's from 36 percent before. It's hard to believe that Griffith, back when he was a Democrat, won this district as an open seat—and it's almost impossible to see something like that happening now.

TX-10 is rather unremarkable as well, as the "compromise" map implemented by the court solidly protects once-upon-a-time vulnerable GOPer Mike McCaul. TX-17, formerly represented by Dem Chet Edwards, is a 37 percent Obama district, which is actually 5 points better than the old TX-17 was in 2008; this anomaly results from the new TX-17 taking a large chunk of staunchly Democratic Travis County (Austin).

Finally, we have official results from the state of West Virginia, which finally certified its results on Monday. WV-02 continues to be Obama's best district in the state, and WV-03 has dropped to 33 percent Obama. This puts Nick Rahall in the same boat as Jim Matheson (who nominally has it a touch worse at 30 percent Obama, but that's at least partially attributable to Mitt Romney's "home" state advantage).

We also have what we're calling "preliminary" results for two more states: Maine and Nebraska. These two states, of course, both divide their electoral votes by congressional district, so they're obligated to report presidential results by CD to the electoral college in their "certificates of ascertainment." However, they only provide raw vote totals by district without any kind of county-level breakdowns. Once we've had the chance to crunch those ourselves, we'll remove the "preliminary" label. And as always, you can find out complete chart of presidential results by congressional district here.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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